Come gather around people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
And if your breath to you is worth saving
Then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changing

They certainly are! On October 13, 2016, Bob Dylan, whose familiar lyrics open this reflection, was named the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Swedish Academy cited Dylan for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” As I write, Dylan has yet to publicly acknowledge he has received this honor. It’s been over a week and not a peep! And yet, I’m not surprised. I believe humanity is challenged by communication. I know I am. In seminary, they never shared how much pastoral care one would do without being physically present to the person in need. Nor did my mentors share just how much time they ACTUALLY spend in front of computer screens receiving and providing communication. More recently, I’ve taken to just picking up the phone and even then it is rare to have someone answer on the other end. I’m certain I am not alone with the challenge of communication. Around the meetinghouse, I’ve received critique or heard remarks like “I had no idea ____ was happening or when did you tell us about _____;” and yet, our lay leaders and your staff communicate happenings monthly and weekly. However, all of us are often remiss to acknowledge our personal responsibility for knowing about the communities we live in covenant with.

In reviewing the monthly and weekly ways we communicate, Kirsten, our Congregational Administrator, and I discussed a variety of ways to improve the process of communicating with the congregation. We discovered the open rate of our monthly newsletter was less than a third of the congregation and that the information provided in the monthly newsletter was being duplicated each week in the order of worship and the weekly email. This was in no way helping with the workload of our less-than-part-time Administrator. I am excited to announce that with input and affirmation from the Board of Trustees, the Committee Council, and the Committee on Shared Ministry, the monthly newsletter will have its final publication the last week of November for the December 2016 issue. In January 2017, the primary tools of communication then become the weekly Thursday email, a 1-page-double sided insert into the order of worship folder on the first Sunday of each month, and a bulletin board maintained by staff and office volunteers. In addition, beginning in January 2017, the Executive Team of the Board of Trustees, chairpersons of Committees, each of your Staff, and I will each contribute to our website with “reflection & stories”. This fulfills a goal to prioritize use of the website we have invested time, talent, and treasure into designing and updating. Those members and friends without access to the internet are invited to confirm with Kirsten the way in which they wish to receive the monthly “Around the Meetinghouse” and any stories and reflections for that month from the website.

Our ministries are growing and communication is not as simple, the times they are a changing; and it is up to each of us to be responsible for understanding the ways we can engage in the vibrant life of our congregation: time to start swimming rather than sink like a stone. I certainly hope Bob Dylan takes his lyrics to heart and recognizes his responsibility to acknowledge the honor of his Nobel Prize soon, for the times they are a changin’.

See you in church ~Rev. Misty-Dawn

© 2015 Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne